Do You Forward Bend?
For today’s post, I thought I would share the benefits and correct alignment for forward bending. Forward bending means bringing your chest and legs closer together, whether standing or seated. It is not about touching your head to your knees, although having that level of flexibility is nice, it’s about creating spaciousness in the joints along the spine and elongating your muscles.
A standing forward bend in Sanskrit is known as Uttanasana and a seated forward bend is known as Paschimattanasana.
Some of the many benefits of forward bending are:
- the lengthening of the muscles of the lower back, pelvis, and legs
- stimulates digestion and massages abdominal organs in the more advanced variations
- cleanses and stimulates the internal organs, such as the kidneys and adrenal glands
- for most practitioners it has a calming effect on the body and mind
To keep my post short and sweet, let’s look at Uttanasana for now.
Some of the added benefits of Uttanasana are:
- strengthens the thighs and ankles
- relieves tension and stress
- stimulates circulation
Forward bending originates deep in the pelvis, within the hip sockets, and we want to keep this in mind as we enter the posture. From a standing position, feet can be anywhere from hips width apart or together with the bases of the big toes touching. Initiate the movement bending at the hips, lifting the sit bones as you move your torso forward. Keep the lower belly drawn in and engage the pelvic floor muscles, keep your back as straight as possible, send your chest forward and shoulders drawn back.
Keep bending at the hips, stretch your arms out and rest your hands where they reach, this maybe your knees, shins, ankles or the floor.
Lift your kneecaps by engaging your thigh muscles, this helps to elongate your calf muscles and hamstrings.
Keep your lower belly drawn in, this helps to release and elongate the back muscles.
Drop your head and relax your neck, this also helps to release tension in your back muscles.
Be sure that your weight is equally distributed on your feet, since there is a tendency to place more weight into the heels.
Stay here and breathe, it could be as short as 5 breaths or 50 breaths or more, you decide. The longer you stay the more your muscles will lengthen and you will be able to come closer to your legs.
Remember as with any posture you do not want to experience pain, especially in or around your joints, if this is the case, you may bend your knees slightly or reduce your range.
The more you practice the more you will begin to experience the benefits of Uttanasana. Practicing a single posture and expecting immediate results is ingenuous to the say the least. Yoga postures work on your whole body and mind, they must be combined with other postures on a regular basis to experience their true benefits.
Practice and all is coming...